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The First Global Emerging Markets Investor: Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust 1880-1913

David Chambers and Rui Esteves∗

September 2011

Abstract: The Foreign and Colonial Investment Trust (FCIT) is the oldest surviving closed end fund in the world today. Its early success was related to its identification of a missing market, namely, the provision of a wholesale diversified investment vehicle for the investing public. Whilst much research has been conducted on aggregate international capital flows in this period, little work has been undertaken on the prime investment institutions. This micro-study seeks to fill this gap by undertaking detailed quantitative analysis of the leading investment trust investing widely in emerging markets during the first era of financial globalisation before WWI. The history of this flagship investment trust over more than three decades up to 1913 provides an insight into the relative success of this institutional innovation as well as into the risk and returns of investing in global emerging markets over a century ago.

David Chambers ( is at Judge Business School, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1AG, United Kingdom. Rui Esteves ( is at the Dept of Economics, Oxford University, Manor Rd Building, Oxford OX1 3UQ, United Kingdom. We thank Foreign and Colonial for access to their archives and Ben Chabot, Christopher Kurz and Mary O’Sullivan for help with data as well as Adam Harmon for research assistance.

2 The Foreign and Colonial Investment Trust (FCIT) is the oldest surviving closed end fund in the world today. Established in 1868 as the Foreign and Colonial Government Trust, it was substantially reorganised a decade later. An analysis of the annual portfolios from

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